My new favorite word: Cumulative

Julian and I take a class on Wednesday mornings. At a recent class, we were talking about holiday traditions. The teacher said something that I can’t get out of my head:

Our childhood holiday memories are cumulative.

When I heard that word – CUMULATIVE – something inside of me clicked and I felt a profound sense of calm and relief. I want to give my children the same happy, joyful holiday memories that I have. But my memories? They are more of a warm cheerful glow than a particular moment. The things that happened when I was four are intertwined with Christmases from adolescence, creating a big messy collage of memories.

We made gingerbread houses from candy and graham crackers, but that did not happen until elementary school. Was my three year old self robbed of some essential holiday moment? Of course not! Besides, the cozy memory spills over to all my childhood memories. So even though the gingerbread house may have only been constructed when I was ten, when I think back on childhood Christmases, it’s as if we made houses every year.

There’s a lot of talk about traditions this time of year, and with social media and Pinterest, it can be easy to get freaked out and worry that we are not doing enough to make Christmas special. But Christmas is not some isolated event. It’s cumulative, and Christmas 2017 is linked with Christmases past and Christmases future. That’s why overall, the thought of Christmas makes me merry, even though a few specific Christmases may have been less than perfect.

For the holiday season, I propose a new greeting: Merry CUMULATIVE Christmas!